Traditional King Cake

How to make traditional King Cake

A Traditional King Cake is my favorite way to celebrate the Mardis Gras holiday. The soft and fluffy yeast dough sets the perfect foundation for a sweet, smooth frosting. Decorated with an array of purple, green and gold sprinkles, it's easy to understand why this cake is the best part of the celebration!


For the Dough

  • 1 16-ounce container sour cream
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/4-ounce envelopes active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water (100° to 110°)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 large eggs (lightly beaten)
  • 6 to 6 1/2 cups bread flour*

For the Filling

  • 1/3 cup butter (softened)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon ((optional))


  • 3 c powdered sugar
  • 3 tbsp butter or cream cheese, softened
  • 24 tbsp tablespoons milk
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Purple-green-, and gold-tinted sparkling sugar sprinkles


  1. Add first 4 ingredients in a medium saucepan over low heat, stirring often, until the butter is melted. Remove from the heat & cool mixture to 100° to 110°.
  2. In a glass measuring cup or small bowl, stir together yeast, 1/2 cup warm water (105°-108°), and 1 tablespoon sugar and let stand for 5 minutes.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment, add the sour cream mixture, yeast mixture, eggs, and 2 cups flour. Give a quick stir with a spatula and turn on at medium speed. As the ingredients start to come together, reduce speed to low, and gradually add the remaining flour (4 to 4 1/2 cups) until a soft dough forms.
  4. Once the dough forms, lower the speed and allow the dough to knead until smooth and elastic (up to 10 minutes). Place in a lightly greased bowl. 
  5. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85° is ideal) for 1 hour or until the dough has  doubled in size. 
  6. When ready, divide the dough in half. Roll each portion into a long rectangle. Spread the softened butter evenly on each rectangle, leaving a 1-inch border. In a small bowl, stir together the sugar and cinnamon, and sprinkle evenly over the butter on each dough rectangle.
  7. There are multiple ways to form the dough ring, I rolled up each dough rectangle, starting at the long side. Place one dough roll, seam side down, on a sheet lined with parchment. Do the same with the second roll. Pinch the tops together, and twist the dough logs over each other to give a braided look. Bring the other ends around together to form a ring, ensuring to make a good seal at the seam. 
  8. Cover and let rise in a warm place again, 20 to 30 minutes or until doubled in bulk.
  9. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  10. Bake for 14 to 16 minutes or until golden. 
  11. After the cake is done baking, allow to cool most of the way. Meanwhile, in a large bowl mix the glaze ingredients until smooth & creamy. 
  12. Pour glaze evenly over warm cake; sprinkle with colored sugars, alternating colors and forming bands. Let cool completely. Serve. 


If you do not have bread flour, all-purpose is fine!

Recipe adapted from: